Nashville’s venerable Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge has been shaped by legends, and last night, music icons and stars of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, gathered at the Ryman Auditorium to honor country music’s legendary honky-tonk celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Mel Tillis, Terri Clark, Little Jimmy Dickens, Colt Ford, Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Mark Chesnutt, Lorrie Morgan, The Grascals, Ronnie McDowell, Dean Miller (son of the late great Roger Miller), Mandy Barnett, and newcomer Joanna Smith, were among those who performed on the revered Ryman stage at the sold out show. Grand Ole Opry legend Dickens, Kristofferson, Tillis and Clark co-hosted the evening which included a retrospective paying tribute to the Nashville landmark and the iconic woman it’s named for, Hattie Louise “Tootsie” Bess, who died in 1978. Radio personality Dr. Shane Collins, WPAP-FM (Panama City, FL), served as emcee.
The evening was steeping with camaraderie as old friends mingled, laughed, posed for photos together backstage, and even ribbed each other on stage. Introducing Tillis to the stage, Kristofferson commented, “He [Tillis] is the closest thing to
Hank Williams we have today. We got in a lot of trouble together along with Merle [Haggard]. Tillis retorted, “Thanks Kris for being my opening act tonight,” which caused the Ryman audience to erupt with laughter.
Dickens made some faces blush and bellies ache with his R-rated schtick while costumed in a trench coat. And there were moments of reverence for “Tootsie” Bess, as Tillis and Dickens shared warm stories of the woman known to care deeply and look after struggling singers and songwriters who were drawn to the mecca of great country music as they tried to make a name for themselves in the country music scene.
Nashville mayor Karl Dean was on hand to acknowledge Tootsie’s historical significance to Music City and presented Tootsie’s owner Steve Smith with a proclamation. The Nashville landmark also received proclamations from Rep. Jim Cooper, Governor Phil Bredesen, and President
Barack Obama. Other country music artists were at the event to honor Tootsie’s including Ira Dean, LoCash Cowboys’ Preston Brust and Chris Lucas, and Craig Campbell, among others.
Tootsie’s performers John Stone, Scott Collier, Dallas Sword, and Leslie Craig also entertained the packed house.
“Family Tradition” – Dallas Sword
“King of the Road” – Dean Miller
“Crazy” – Mandy Barnett
“Chicken & Biscuits” – Colt Ford
“Older Women” – Ronnie McDowell
“Getting Married” – Joanna Smith
“Stand By Your Man” – Joanna Smith
“It’s a Little Too Late” –
“Brother Jukebox” –
“Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Terri Clark
“Walkin’ After Midnight” – Terri Clark
“Folsom Prison Blues” – Terri Clark
“Me & Bobby McGee” – Kris Kristofferson
“Help Me Make it Through The Night” – Kris Kristofferson
“Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” – Kris Kristofferson
“Love Revival” –
Candy Kisses” – Lorrie Morgan
“Something in Red” – Lorrie Morgan
“Will I Always Be This Way” – Randy Houser
“Dog House” – Randy Houser
“Dinosaur” – Randy Houser + Jamey Johnson
“In Color” – Jamey Johnson
“Put A Little Stank On It” – Scott Collier
“Rock Star” – Leslie Craig
“I Can’t Love You” – Anthony Orio